It’s a Miracle!

Posted by on Feb 16, 2014 in Eating & Cooking, General, Management & Care | 4 comments

If you’re paying much attention to what is said on social media about type 2 diabetes; how we get it and how we can get rid of it, then you’ve probably seen this:

okra and water

Wouldn’t it be nice?  Let me say right up front: I hate the term Diabetes Sufferers!!!!

Let’s discuss this claim that okra water will make diabetes “go away”.  There are some rather scary claims here.

First, that okra water “played the role of insulin”.  Anyone who has type 1 knows that there isn’t anything that can replace their injected insulin.  However, many, many people with T2 are apt to grab onto any claim that will help them stop injections.  This is dangerous, in my opinion, because people may stock up on okra and not take their insulin shots based solely on this claim.  T2s who use insulin are doing so for a good reason.  Their blood glucose is on the high end and they need insulin to keep it under control.  While not injecting insulin with T2 doesn’t have the same ramifications as someone with T1, it does mean that folks may be dealing with much higher blood glucose than they should; wreaking havoc with their bodies and possibly developing complications down the road.

Second, the claim that okra water will make diabetes “go away” leaves you with the impression that “all you have to do” is drink this stuff and you can go on eating all the junk you want, without concern.  Diabetes will not go away.  Period.  There are many things we can do to help control our blood glucose but, even if we are seeing normal numbers, that doesn’t mean that diabetes is gone.  It’s still there, lurking, ready to rear its ugly head if we should stray from the path that is working for us.  We need to accept that reality and move on.

I did a little snoping (ie: I went to Snopes.com.  I do know how to spell).  This article at Snopes lays out the controversy quite well.  Lo and behold, Snopes didn’t call BS, but instead said that there is a mix of true and false in the information found in the plug about okra.  It basically says what I did above about the misinformation and added this:

As noted in the 2012 textbook Bioactive Food as Dietary Interventions for Diabetes:

There is anecdotal evidence for the amelioration of diabetes by dietary consumption of okra but what are lacking are controlled clinical trials. There are constituents of okra such as polyphenolic molucules that provide encouragement for such studies in the future.

The article goes on to say that there is enough evidence to indicate that consuming okra might have a positive effect on blood glucose but more, extensive, studies need to happen before it can be said that it makes a difference.

This all tells me that drinking okra water might help to lower blood glucose, just as cinnamon and vinegar (not together, blergh) might work.  Some people do see an improvement with both of these things, but some don’t.  Each of us is different.  The thing to take away from all the hoopla is that it may be worth it to try okra water to see if it helps you but don’t ever buy into claims that something, anything, will make your diabetes disappear.  Only hard work and attention, by you, can make a difference.  We need to take ownership  of our diabetes.  Okra is a good veggie to eat.  Add it to soups and stews or even drink the water, but don’t put it up on a pedestal and think it’s going to change your life.  It’s just a vegetable, one of many you should be eating.

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Putting On My Oxygen Mask

Posted by on Jan 21, 2014 in Management & Care | 1 comment

Why is it that as a parent I make sure my kids do things like go to the dentist religiously twice a year, but I don’t always do the best job at taking care of myself? I come up with excuses why I can’t exercise, forget to test my glucose levels, put off going to the dentist… The list goes on and on.

Ok, I’m not quite being the “model diabetic” here, am I? I want to set a good example for my children, but sometimes life gets in the way. It’s sometimes hard for me to take time and money away from the family to do something for myself. At one point my hair was half way down my back because I had a hard time justifying the cost of getting a haircut. Taking care of myself sometimes feels like an easy to ignore “luxury”.

Quite often in our busy lives, we grab a burger on the go instead of taking the time for a healthy meal. We sit at the computer instead of going for a walk. Finding little ways to stay healthy doesn’t have to take a lot of time, money, or effort.OxygenMask

I need to remind myself I’m not being selfish by taking care of me. Remember the talk before take-off on an airplane? Parents, please put on your oxygen mask before putting one on your child. I need to remember that I can’t take care of my family if I don’t take care of myself first.

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Blood sugar testing for type 2 diabetics

Posted by on Nov 23, 2013 in Management & Care | 1 comment

Many people with type 2 diabetes do not regularly check their blood sugar levels.  No one enjoys poking their fingers and bleeding.  No one.  However, just like watching what we eat and adding more regular exercise to our day, checking our blood sugar levels at different times of the day is an important step toward controlling our diabetes.

I have written posts on my personal blog about why I test.  It seems like it shouldn’t be necessary to explain why; everyone should be testing!  I still fail to understand why people with diabetes don’t test!  Denial?  Fear?  Economics?  Part of the reason people with type 2 (who don’t use insulin) don’t test is because they aren’t encouraged by their healthcare team to do so.  Insurance companies (including Medicare) don’t generally allow T2s to have test strips.  Ludicrous!  This has to change.  Studies have shown that checking our blood sugar when we don’t use insulin doesn’t do any good.  Instead of just getting upset about that, I looked into the why of that statement.  The reason is because T2s often don’t do anything with the information they receive from testing.  If you test, and don’t make changes in what you’re eating or how much you’re exercising, then your blood sugar will likely not improve.  Your diabetes will likely progress much faster.

The important thing to remember when you’re dealing with a life with diabetes is that you do have some level of control.  Yes you do!  YOU control what you eat.  YOU control how much you move.  YOU are in charge!  Checking your blood sugar, and doing something with that information, is a basic tool for improving your health.  USE IT!

Here are some basic things to know about checking your blood sugar and what to do with the information.

  • Checking your fasting blood sugar every morning will give your healthcare provider valuable information about how your body is doing overnight. If your numbers are consistently high, then a change in medication might be in order. It will also give you information about how many carbs you can safely eat for breakfast.
  • Checking before and after certain meals will help you to understand how your body is handling those foods.  Check before your first bite and then again approx. 90 minutes after your first bite. “They” recommend checking 1-2 hours after eating.  Everyone is different and you need to determine for yourself when your peak sugar point is.  Mine is 90 minutes.  How do I know?  Because I took the time long ago to test at 1, 1.5 and 2 hours after a few meals.  Lots of pokes; worth the effort.

What should you do if your blood sugar rises too high?  You have several options: Stop eating that food, reduce your portions or tweak the meal, ie: add more protein and/or fat and reduce the carbs.

  • Want a snack?  If you check your blood sugar level before snacking you can avoid serious spikes.  Testing before snacking can help to guide you to a better food option.  Blood sugar high?  Drink water and munch on veggies/pickles/nuts.  Blood sugar lower?  Go ahead and have a few carbs if you want.

Do you have to test all the time?  Heck no.  I test, on average, three times per day.  I’ve been known to test 10 times in one day but that’s only when things are out of whack and I’m trying to regain some control.  I’ve also had many days when my fasting reading is the only one I do.

Now that you’re testing, be sure to write down your results.  You need a record of your results to share with your healthcare team and to remind you of what your body does in certain situations.  Personally, I have an Excel spreadsheet that I use, because I’m a geek, where I record my readings along with comments like: “I was sick”.  “Today sucked.” “I don’t freakin care!!!!”  “Dang, I’m good!”  Stuff like that.  You can use whatever works for you; paper and pencil, computer or even a fancy tracker app on your smart phone.  Whatever method you use, be sure there’s an option to print out/email/show your doctor.

That’s about it.  I cannot stress enough how important this is.  Testing can enable you to better control your diabetes.  Information is essential.  Don’t fly blind!  Also remember that it’s just a number; a number that can help you make informed decisions about your health.  It isn’t a judgment or a “test”.  It’s just a smart way for you to be in control.

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Denial isn’t a river in Egypt

Posted by on Oct 22, 2013 in Diabetes & Emotions, Management & Care | 4 comments

speak-no-evil-hear-no-evil-look-no-evil

“A slave that acknowledges its enslavement is halfway to its liberation.” –Mokokoma Mokhonoana

As I sit to relax after eating a healthy lunch (green peppers stuffed with a mix of brown rice, chicken and veggies) I’m thinking why don’t I eat like this more often. In fact, I’m here thinking what happened in the past few months to make me completely derail from everything a person with type 2 diabetes should do in order to be healthy.

2013 has been hectic. For almost a year I was working two jobs so I could afford health insurance (see the irony?). My schedule was so crappy, I ate whatever was available, which means there were a lot of late night shifts that ended at the BK drive-thru. Decent sleep hours became a joke, so don’t ask me about exercise. My routine got completely screwed up, and I won’t get the award for taking my medications on time. Now my jeans feel tighter, you do the math. I feel tired which means my thyroid is angry. So it hasn’t been a good year for my diabetes management.

About a month ago my life changed for the better when I was offered a wonderful position at the college where I work. Now I have a regular week day, first shift, full time job. That certainly gives me time to plan things and take care of myself, but it’s taking me a while to get back on track.

The first thing I did was reassess my health and realize I haven’t seen my doctor since the beginning of May. My last A1C dates from March. I don’t remember when was the last time I tested my blood glucose levels because I ran out of strips, and the doctor will want to see me. But for a month I’ve been afraid to call and make that appointment… I am almost 100% sure my numbers will make her eyes cross.

Because taking my metformin has been rather an irregular thing, now that I’m taking it every day, as many times as required, my stomach is all messed up and I find myself cursing the diabetes demons. And while trying to decide how to soothe my poor stomach, I was thinking if I need a medication change, if it would be better to manage my blood glucose levels with insulin or if there will soon be a magic cure. Truth is, all I need to do is get out of denial and do what has always worked for me.

This is the story of my life. The story of the life of a person with type 2 diabetes. Especially one who doesn’t live on insulin. It’s homework every single day. Every decision affects our numbers. And the guilt paralyzes us.

I made my appointment with the doctor this morning. I know it won’t be pretty, but I ran out of excuses.

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Taking Ownership

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in Management & Care | 3 comments

I recently read an abstract on the American Diabetes Association’s website that I found quite disturbing.  (http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2013/07/18/dc13-0331.abstract)   In a nutshell, the article states that there is inertia in the medical community in regards to treatment of type 2 diabetes.  Treatment is not intensified even when glucose numbers are screaming for attention.

In a similar vein, I see comments online from people with type 2 diabetes who are struggling with their glucose control.  They might say something like “my blood sugar is out of control and nothing my doctor tells me to do is fixing it” or “my doctor isn’t hearing me when I say my treatment isn’t working” or even worse “today’s blood sugars were way out of whack but tomorrow will be better”.  This last statement is made without any indication that the person is going to do anything about those high readings other than hope they improve.  Hope is good but it doesn’t do much if it isn’t paired with an action plan.

The common thread here is that people aren’t taking ownership of their diabetes.  Whether we like it or not, we have to own our diabetes in order to control it.  We can’t ignore it.  We can’t let someone else tell us what to do when things aren’t working.  We have to take the reins and do what we can to fix things ourselves.

This post isn’t about following a certain diet or medication regimen.  There are as many food plans and medicine options as there are folks with T2D.  This post is simply saying “Take charge and educate yourself.”  If something isn’t working, then make a change!  If your doctor, dietician or CDE is telling you to follow a certain plan and your blood sugars are still out of whack, speak up!  Ask for another plan or, God forbid, make a suggestion to them that you feel might help you.  If your healthcare team isn’t listening to you, fire them and find someone who is willing to work with you.  It’s your diabetes.  It’s your responsibility to own it and figure out what works best for you.  Don’t rely on a doctor who you might see a total of 1 hour per year, but instead, be active in your own treatment.  I’m not advocating that you ignore your doctor, I’m pleading with you to be part of the team.  Heck, lead your team.  Don’t sit in the back seat and let someone else steer you to your future health.

 

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New Doctor Blues

Posted by on Aug 14, 2013 in Management & Care | 2 comments

This is one song I think most people with diabetes know.

My primary care physician, who I really worked well with, left the clinic at which I saw her. My understanding is that she’s looking to start a new clinic, but in the meantime I have to see another doctor at the same clinic. If I like him, I’ll probably stay with the clinic, which is a good fit for me in several ways.

My first appointment is tomorrow morning. I’m somewhat nervous. In fact, I’m double-nervous: I have diabetes-checkup nerves AND new doctor nerves.

I’ve got the normal pre-appointment jitters about the normal stuff. What will my numbers be like? Will I need a change in treatment plan? Has all the walking I’ve done helped with the HDL cholesterol? Will I get a good answer to the question I hope to ask?

But the new doctor brings a different set of worries. Will I like him, and will he like me? Will I feel like his next appointment is more important to him than I am? Will I be judged for my obesity? Will I be judged because I don’t test often enough? Will he be open to my desire to participate in treatment decisions?

To be honest, the new-doctor worries actually weigh more heavily upon me than the pre-appointment worries. If the appointment goes well, I’ll feel good about staying with that clinic. If it goes badly, I may be on the hunt for a new clinic to go to.

I don’t much care for “The New Doctor Blues”. I sure seem to know the words, though.

 

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